The best budget gaming PCs can deliver great performance despite their price tag. It’s all about compromises and knowing where you can make concessions to price without necessarily tanking gaming performance.
Each cheap desktop option in this guide will bring you solidly into the gaming sphere for considerably less cash than a flagship gaming PC. The convenience of a prebuilt PC means you avoid having to learn how to install a graphics card or how to install a power supply.
But while top-end rigs, which combine the very best gaming CPUs and best graphics cards are not purchases that can be made lightly, a cheap gaming PC will allow you to play the majority of titles for a fraction of the price.
We’ve picked out high-quality, low-cost PCs (under $1,5oo/£1,000) that are still able to fling frames around without a care and nail 1080p gaming in the best PC games. Once you’ve got a cheap gaming PC in your arsenal, you can start wading into the exciting world of more demanding, next-gen PC games.
The best budget gaming PCs in 2023 are:
- Acer Predator Orion 3000 – best budget gaming PC
- HP Victus 15L – best compact option
- HP Pavilion gaming desktop – best for playing and working
- Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit – best affordable mini
- CLX Set – best for casual gamers
1. Acer Predator Orion 3000
Best budget gaming PC overall.
Acer Predator Orion 3000 specs:
|Windows 11 Home 64-bit
|Intel Core i7-13700F processor Hexadeca-core 1.50GHz
|16GB, DDR5 SDRAM
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 (8GB)
- Powerful new processor
This fast and furious eyeful is an excellent futureproof option. While there are expensive configurations to be had, Acer also offers cheaper options just shy of £$1,000 – and we had to include it on this list because of that. It’s upgradable too, ensuring that it keeps pace with all the latest releases.
The Acer Predator Orion 3000 is slick, black, and with a transparent side panel you can swap with the as-shipped black panel in order to display the inner workings in all their gaming PC glory, this Predator simply sits there and screams “PLAY ME UNTIL IT HURTS, BABY!”
And play it you shall, in a brilliant blizzard of 1080p and 1440p resolution fun, as the 16 Core, 24 Thread Intel Core i7-13700F (max. turbo frequency: 5.20GHz) and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 combine to deliver hardcore play perfection and stunning visuals.
Available here with 16GB of memory and a solid 1TB of storage, while Predator FrostBlade 2.0 fans, featuring their own RGB LEDS I hasten to add, keep the system cucumber-cool to reduce the likelihood of overheating mid-session and ruining your day/night.
The LED lighting can, of course, be personalized to bathe you in whatever hue you find most conducive to kicking ass. WiFi 6E (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0 provide a solid, sturdy, stable connection to the world, and ports aplenty provide connections for any and all peripherals you favor.
2. HP Victus 15L
The best HP gaming PC
HP Victus 15L TG02-1013na specs:
|Windows 11 Home
|Intel Core i5 13400 (13th Generation)
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 (8 GB)
- Latest NVIDIA card
- Playing perfection
Available off-the-shelf in four spec set-ups, naturally, because there’s no point in half-measures if you have Greenbacks ready to go. I’ve opted for the most expensive option, mainly because it features NVIDIA’s latest GeForce RTX 4060 graphics card, with ultra-efficient NVIDIA Ada Lovelace architecture, to give you AI-accelerated action all the way. We’re talking hyper-fast and hyper-realistic here.
This comes freshly married in a wonderful computer ceremony to an Intel Core i5 processor featuring 10 Cores and 16 Threads, a base frequency of 1.80GHz, and a turbo frequency up to 4.60GHz. If this is destined for your desktop, you’re going to be rewarded with blistering fast gameplay and image quality that blurs the line between graphics and real life.
On the memory side, you get 16GB, 1TB sorts out your storage, and no fewer than nine USB ports give a plethora of connections. Meanwhile, on the wireless front, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 keep you constantly connected.
With rather understated aesthetics, especially in comparison with the Acer Predator Orion 3000, the unassuming Mica silver metal finish certainly helps it blend in better as a component of a larger home entertainment system, which will certainly hold an appeal with those who want the greatest gaming experience but none of the fuss.
3. HP Pavilion gaming desktop
The best for gaming and working
HP Pavilion specs:
|Windows 11 Home 64-bit
|up to AMD Ryzen 7
|up to 16GB
|1TB HDD & 512GB SSD
|up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
- Best of both worlds
HP’s Pavilion is the best pick for you if you don’t want a gamer aesthetic, and instead need a desktop to go seamlessly from work to play. Face it, unless you make your living as some YouTube gaming sensation, all too often the fun has to stop and the back-breaking, bill-paying work has to begin. If that for you involves the use of a computer and an ample amount of working from home, then why shift seats?
There’s a range of Pavilion options to suit a range of budgets, with plenty offering oomph for under a thousand. For under $600, you get an AMD Ryzen 3 5300G Processor, 8 GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD. While a long way from being a premium processor, this offers an excellent price-to-performance ratio.
4. Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit
The best affordable mini PC.
Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit specs:
|Windows 11 Home
|Intel Core i9-9980HK Processor (16M Cache, up to 5.00GHz)
- Small form factor
- Freedom to self-spec
- Some practical PC knowledge required
The NUC 9 Extreme Kit from Intel is one of the best mini gaming PCs. It’s built around an Intel Core i9 processor that comes to you without memory, storage, or a graphics card. It’s up to you to specify and build in those components yourself. Supporting up to an eight-inch discrete card, the choice is purely yours, meaning you can use the best websites for custom PC builds to make yourself one hell of a powerful PC, speccing it exactly how you want it.
A hugely popular option if you have a small space, the NUC 9 features a petite footprint, thanks to its five-liter chassis, meaning it’ll fit in just about anywhere you need it to; so, site it, spec it and set faces for ‘stunned’. However, keep in mind that having to buy all of those extra components yourself is going to ramp up the price.
5. CLX Set
The best budget PC for casual gamers.
CLX Set specs:
|Windows 11 Home
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600G 3.9GHz Hexa-Core
|2x 8GB (16GB Dual Channel)
|AMD Radeon RX Vega 7 Onboard
- Ultra cheap
- Wide configurable spec
- Lower spec not great with AAA
A pre-build gaming PC from a company that offers you almost infinite possibilities when it comes to spec. Pick a processor, get a GPU, select your storage, and make your choice on memory – all is possible. But for the sake of this piece, I’ve settled on the cheapest option, comprised of an AMD Ryzen 5 5600G 3.9GHz Hexa-Core CPU, an AMD Radeon RX Vega 7 integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. What this gives you is a low-price machine that’s great for the more casual gamer. Okay, admittedly, the latest AAA games are not going to play ball particularly, but considering the price, that’s understandable. It is still capable of playing games at 1080p with little problem on this configuration.
Design-wise (more on that in a moment), this is the basic black SET SPEAR Micro Tower, but even that looks slick with its RGB LEDs and logo plus tempered glass window, so it’s a reasonably premium look for not that many pennies.
But, as I’ve said, all components can be self-specified, so even the chassis comes with 18 different options at varying additional prices, making the world your option-oyster. However, keeping focus on the model here, an entry-level gaming PC with this spec and this price is nothing if not an absolute bargain.
How we chose the best budget gaming PC
When compiling this list, I kept it to the gaming PCs that cost no more than $2000 and which I know from experience can offer a smooth and reliable gaming experience. Specs are obviously an important factor, and, for example, we’d look out for something with a GPU like the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 and a CPU like the Intel Core i5 13400. For more about how we compile these lists, read our how we test page. We also have some FAQs below, if you have any further questions.
What is a reasonable budget for a gaming PC?
For the best experience, you’re going to be spending upwards of $1000. This is for a PC that can play games like Cyberpunk 2077. But if that’s not your bag and games that are less demanding on the CPU and GPU will do for you, then save your dollar and look for lower spec.
How good is a $500 gaming PC?
It depends on your definition. If you want something to play the best free PC games on, and other less processing-intensive releases, then a PC in that price range will be just fine. However, if you want to play something like Starfield, you’re not going to be able to do it on a machine in that price range.
Do I need 32GB RAM?
You will notice that many of the high-end gaming PCs boast 32GB of RAM. This will not be necessary for the vast majority of games, and certainly not for day-to-day use, a PC with that capability will be better suited to handle new developments in and big, next-gen releases. You’re not going to get 32GB RAM on a budget gaming PC so there are none with that specification on this list.